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IT'S A CRIME THIS CAPER COULDN'T BE FUNNIER.

Byline: - Bob Strauss

WITH THE LIKES of ``Amores Perros'' and ``Y Tu Mama Tambien'' setting the pace, Mexican films seem to be in a race to see which can be the most outrageous.

``Matando Cabos'' is no slouch in that department. A black farce about the serious local problem of ransom kidnapping, it's vulgar and brutal, pleasingly surreal in places and, initially, pretty funny.

But first-time feature director and co-writer Alejandro Lozano can't maintain his plot's cleverness nor the split-second comic timing a film with this many crazy coincidences needs to succeed.

In this movie, happenstance flies thick and ridiculously - and through a confusing mesh of flashbacks, hallucinations and unreliable narratives to boot. I'll try to explain it. But no promises.

Oscar Cabos (Pedro Armendariz) is a hateful, violent and super-wealthy Mexico City businessman. When an accident renders him unconscious, his future son-in-law Jaque and Jaque's best friend Mudo (Mexican soap opera stars Tony Dalton and Kristoff) toss Cabos in the trunk of their car.

At about the same time, a more serious group of kidnappers grab someone they think is Cabos, but who actually turns out to be the ringleader's father. Because a hood is kept over the victim's head, this is not realized for the longest time. Nor can they get Cabos' wife to pay attention to their ransom demands, as she's organizing a gala birthday party for herself and couldn't care less about her husband, anyway.

Cars and hostages get switched back and forth, captives and captors alike are horribly abused, and somehow a retired, drug-addled masked wrestler and a 4-foot-tall cannibal become enmeshed in the ever-more-complicated - yet, somehow, slower-moving - shenanigans.

Though not devoid of satiric sharpness, ``Matando Cabos' '' has such a bleak view of human nature that it leaves you wishing that someone would just take all of its self-centered characters away somewhere and never bring them back.

MATANDO CABOS - Two stars

(R: violence, language, sex, nudity, drug use)

Starring: Tony Dalton, Kristoff, Pedro Armendariz, Joaquin Cosio.

Director: Alejandro Lozano.

Running time: 1 hr. 33 min.

Playing: In wide release.

In a nutshell: Mexican kidnapping comedy of errors starts out pleasingly, cheesily wacko but succumbs to slack plotting and pacing. In Spanish with English subtitles.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 26, 2005
Words:369
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